Embattled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, may be preparing to turn his back on the Syrian president. According to the Al-Hayat pan-Arab newspaper in London, Russia has agreed to a long-standing demand of Syrian opposition forces that Assad be removed from power.

The report comes as negotiators representing Syrian rebels refused to consider even a transitional role for Assad in a proposed unity government. Asaad al-Zoabi, one of the negotiators, insisted that “Assad should not remain for even one hour after the formation” of a transitional government. The Al-Hayat report cites a diplomat in the UN Security Council who leaked the basic outline of the agreement. READ MORE